State should pay for returned guns

In Summary

• Uganda successfully combined a buyback programme for illegal weapons in Karimoja with a military crackdown

• Kenya this week launched a security operation to eliminate insecurity in northern Kenya

A combined military and police operation is starting to disarm rustlers in northern Kenya. This is the right thing to do although, inevitably, there will be casualties on both sides.

It is a truism that armed force should be a monopoly of the state. Governments cannot allow armed  militias to become a law unto themselves.

Property has to be sacrosanct. The Pokot can not be allowed to steal cattle from the Turkana by force of arms, or vice versa.

 Thirty years ago Karimoja in north-east Uganda was a no-go area. The rustlers were so well-armed that they could defeat even the army. Yet the Uganda government restored peace by combining a crackdown on illegal weapons with a buyback programme where the state paid for any guns handed in. This was expensive but it worked. Karimoja is now safe.

The Ruto government should do the same thing in northern Kenya but it should combine the carrot and stick. It should announce a short amnesty to buy back all guns in northern Kenya and then use the military to crack down hard on all those who keep their guns.

Quote of the day: "Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen."

Michael Jordan
The American basketball player was born on February 17, 1963

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